RE: Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR | PH Fleet

RE: Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR | PH Fleet

Saturday 5th October 2019

Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR | PH Fleet

Some have argued classic status for the Mk7 Golf GTI. We've got till Christmas to make a call on the run-out version



The first thing we did with the TCR was take it back. We'd asked for the honeycomb decals to be removed prior to delivery; they hadn't been. Why did we want them taken off? Well, brass tacks, the Golf - particularly in a darkish colour like Pure Grey - looks better without them. Also, it falls to yours truly to carry the burden of 'ownership' this time around, and I'm not a big fan of try-hard styling flourishes in hot hatches. Better to keep its potential hidden beneath a bushel.

The second thing we did was take the TCR on last week's group test, where its likeable side was so well hidden under a bushel that Matt B declared it the least preferential front-drive hot hatch. It goes without saying that the case was well argued and generally on the money. Our run-out TCR car is indeed Β£41,289 with options, which is a lot. Too much really. It is also an automatic by default, which is all wrong. And Volkswagen has denied it the chassis settings which made the limited-edition Clubsport S such a riot. Which is a plain old shame.

Moreover - as Matt pointed out - its front end is less capable than the new Focus ST, its rear-end is less interesting than the four-wheel steer Megane Trophy and it is ultimately less entertaining to wring out than the irascible i30 N. Tot that little lot up and you arguably find yourself with a sizeable pile of reasons to park the TCR at the bottom of the current hot hatch wish list and declare the Mk7 GTI done. Come in 2012, your time is up etc etc.


So did I pull rank to drive something - anything - else the 200 miles home? No. Of course I didn't. Why not? Well, because when you've swapped a deserted stretch of B road for the M1 and you don't want to think about the physical act of driving for the next four hours, the Golf is so far ahead of its newer rivals that it's practically in a different segment. Namely the one for grown-ups living in the boring old real world.

This is where the Golf has always been; classless, yes - but a class apart, too. Clubsport S aside, the Mk7 has never been the quickest, most exciting or even the most desirable hot hatch in any of its years on sale; just as none of its predecessors were either. The Mk7 GTI's introduction coincided with the launch of the Megane R.S. 265 Cup, a car so far beyond its dynamic capabilities that the comparison seemed almost laughable. But when it came to spending actual money on a car to sit on the actual driveway in front of an actual house, most people still bought the Golf.

They were not wrong to do so. Riotous, immersive handling is one thing - deservedly the thing we all hold dear - but ask any OEM engineer and they'll tell you that a well resolved and instinctively cohesive driving experience is the hardest thing in the world to plumb into a conventional chassis. This GTI has this attribute in spades, and it is precisely by its virtue that the Golf allows you a chance to stop thinking about it when you don't need to and still not regard time spent in its company as a chore.


By default, that makes it superbly adaptable in a way its rivals are not. And make no mistake, all of its rivals - particularly Hyundai and Honda - have spent entire life cycles furiously benchmarking the GTI in hope of reproducing its canny mix of premium-end finish and functional good looks. That none of them has entirely succeeded speaks volumes about the job done on the Mk7 variant in the first place, and makes the predictably upmarket trim of the TCR seem consistent with what's come before.

None of this is a secret, of course - which does beg the question, why run one as a longtermer just before the curtain falls? Well, for one thing, PH is as much about buying second-hand cars as it is new ones, and with the Mk8 inbound, the Mk7 GTI buyer is likely to enjoy a noticeable drop in prices next year as the market swells - so there's plenty of food for thought there (especially as our former test fleet car has accrued 8262 test miles, and is therefore already in the nearly-new category).

Additionally, it seems only fair to take a longer look at the TCR specifically. After all, the model follows in a long tradition of end-of-the-line GTIs, and it's worth considering where its 290hp output stands in the lineage. Pitching it against the very slightly more powerful and very slightly heavier Golf R also feels like debate worth having before the latter has 48v technology forced upon it (as seems likely). The advent of mild-hybrid technology together with what's expected to be a slew of new safety systems and driver aids suggests it might also be a good time to savour the company of the comparatively analogue Mk7. And finally, there's the appealing thought of a Renault Sport Megane 300 Trophy in the car park for side-by-side ownership comparison - now we've got the Peak District bit out of the way.


Car: Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR
Run by: Nic
On fleet since: Sept 2019
Mileage: 8262
List price new: Β£35,305 (price as standard; as tested Β£41,289 comprised of GTI TCR Performance Pack - 8J x 19" Pretoria Black alloys with 235/35 R19 semi-slick tyres and anti-theft wheel bolts, derestricted top speed to 164 mph, lowered sports suspension by approx. 20mm and Dynamic chassis Control (DCC)(Β£2,900) Panoramic sunroof - electric, glass sliding/tilting including integrated blind (Β£1,000) rear tinted glass - from B-pillar backwards, approx. 90% tinted (Β£100) side decals - honeycomb design (Β£555) rear side airbags - includes rear seat belt tensioners (for 2 outer rear seats) and optical warning if rear seat. Pure Grey (Β£595) with TCR upholstery belts unfastened (Β£300) Retailer fitted optional equipment: Vodaphone S5-VTS - vehicle tracker including one year subscription (Β£534.19 incl. fitting)
Last month at a glance: Losing its stickers and a group test

Search for a Mk7 Golf GTI here






Author
Discussion

Court_S

Original Poster:

1,763 posts

126 months

Saturday 5th October 2019
quotequote all
I quite like these in fact I came very close to buying one (with a slightly lower spec). The discounts I was offered were pretty good.

On paper it looked perfect; quick enough, well spec’d, sensible enough for family life etc. In reality it did nothing for me in the flesh. As a daily car it’d have been perfect but it was so sensible.

Mike1990

740 posts

80 months

Saturday 5th October 2019
quotequote all
I’d have kept the decals personally.

Can’t deny after all these years the good old dependable Golf GTi is still the hot-hatch benchmark.

GTEYE

1,482 posts

159 months

Saturday 5th October 2019
quotequote all
The Golf is very much the Swiss Army Knife of hot hatches - as a daily driver it just works.

PorkInsider

3,793 posts

90 months

Saturday 5th October 2019
quotequote all
Is that pricing for real?

£555 for those side stickers?!

Baldchap

2,056 posts

41 months

Saturday 5th October 2019
quotequote all
I had a 7 GTI PP and a 7.5 R and it makes me laugh when people talk about them being boring. The fact is, a hot hatch by definition needs to be a good everyday car with some performance bolted on. It needs to commute, slog and hold up to carting crap and people about whilst making progress.

The Golf is an EXCELLENT every day car. Far better than almost anything else for sale today. I mean that. Every little feature works excellently and has been properly thought out. They just work all the time in every situation.

The remaining crop of hot hatches are all too focussed on the 1% of the time that the car is driven hard to the detriment of the 99% of the time when it isn't. For me, if they're crap every day cars, they're going up against other 'similar' crap every day cars like my Elise, at which point they lose badly.

If you want a track car, don't buy a FWD hot hatch, buy a track car. If you want to build a hot hatch, don't build an awful every day car that happens to be fast on a track. It's not the point.

Obviously opinions are like aholes, including mine. smile

FaNtheMaN26

84 posts

8 months

Saturday 5th October 2019
quotequote all
That's why the civic which I have is best of both worlds. Yes the looks means for many it's not an option, but whack it in comfort and it's every bit as good a daily as the golf. Soft ride, 4 doors huge boot. Then for that 1% (more like 25 for me) whack it in r mode and enjoy it


Elatino1

578 posts

10 months

Saturday 5th October 2019
quotequote all
Baldchap said:
If you want a track car, don't buy a FWD hot hatch, buy a track car. If you want to build a hot hatch, don't build an awful every day car that happens to be fast on a track. It's not the point.

Obviously opinions are like aholes, including mine. smile
A friend had a fwd track car. It eats up Caterhams, Lotae etc every time.

Court_S

Original Poster:

1,763 posts

126 months

Saturday 5th October 2019
quotequote all
Baldchap said:
The Golf is an EXCELLENT every day car. Far better than almost anything else for sale today. I mean that. Every little feature works excellently and has been properly thought out. They just work all the time in every situation.
I get that, but still didn’t want one. I know it needs to do all the boring stuff but I just wanted a bit more, something that tickled me a little bit. They just didn’t. The slightly compromised M140 did so much more for me.

Baldchap

2,056 posts

41 months

Saturday 5th October 2019
quotequote all
Court_S said:
Baldchap said:
The Golf is an EXCELLENT every day car. Far better than almost anything else for sale today. I mean that. Every little feature works excellently and has been properly thought out. They just work all the time in every situation.
I get that, but still didn’t want one. I know it needs to do all the boring stuff but I just wanted a bit more, something that tickled me a little bit. They just didn’t. The slightly compromised M140 did so much more for me.
And this is the joy of there being so much variety out there. smile

mike150

408 posts

149 months

Saturday 5th October 2019
quotequote all
Baldchap said:
I had a 7 GTI PP and a 7.5 R and it makes me laugh when people talk about them being boring. The fact is, a hot hatch by definition needs to be a good everyday car with some performance bolted on. It needs to commute, slog and hold up to carting crap and people about whilst making progress.

The Golf is an EXCELLENT every day car. Far better than almost anything else for sale today. I mean that. Every little feature works excellently and has been properly thought out. They just work all the time in every situation.

The remaining crop of hot hatches are all too focussed on the 1% of the time that the car is driven hard to the detriment of the 99% of the time when it isn't. For me, if they're crap every day cars, they're going up against other 'similar' crap every day cars like my Elise, at which point they lose badly.

If you want a track car, don't buy a FWD hot hatch, buy a track car. If you want to build a hot hatch, don't build an awful every day car that happens to be fast on a track. It's not the point.

Obviously opinions are like aholes, including mine. smile
I totally agree with the above........

I used to own a Golf 7R DSG and now have an S3 with S-tronic............ same but a bit different and I also have an Elise S3 220.

I love the fact the Golf/S3 is fast, comfortable and effortless. One of my mates constantly says about how boring the Golf is and it is on twisty roads which should be fun! But its fast, my current S3 has been to Revo and so had the Golf plus 90%of the time its just a car to get me somewhere, the other 10% of the time the ridiculous ease of speed keeps me happy.

I did spend a few months with a 2016 Focus ST but while road testers might love it for a day the near solid dampers peed me off, it was irritating 90% of the time and fun 10% of the time........ Wrong balance so I sold it.

Looking forward to the next Golf R and Audi S3 meanwhile the Lotus is fun.

Edited by mike150 on Saturday 5th October 13:09

Don Roque

16,857 posts

108 months

Saturday 5th October 2019
quotequote all
Elatino1 said:
A friend had a fwd track car. It eats up Caterhams, Lotae etc every time.
There is no doubting that the most exciting hot hatches these days, the RS Megane and the Civic Type R, are every bit the consummate competition to cars that are almost exclusively made for having fun in. Hot hatches have long been capable of keeping more exotic cars in check on the road but over the past few years their ability on track has increased dramatically.

Repent

330 posts

122 months

Saturday 5th October 2019
quotequote all
The article is a well written justification for a white good.

It may be a fantastic white good but driving is about more than that. If you’re really into driving the compromises are worth it.

A sit up e-bike would be more comfortable and better suited to daily tasks than my Cervélo road bike but I wouldn’t want to take it out at 6am on Sunday morning.

Baldchap

2,056 posts

41 months

Saturday 5th October 2019
quotequote all
Repent said:
It may be a fantastic white good but driving is about more than that. If you’re really into driving the compromises are worth it.
And you buy none of the cars mentioned.

It's catch 22. A hot hatch, even a brilliant one, will never be 25% the drivers' car a proper sports car is, so let's make them good daily drivers.

J.R.B.

193 posts

141 months

Saturday 5th October 2019
quotequote all
I would have one of these in a flash if it wasn’t for the fact that I would be nervous about the theft/car jacking risk which is still rife around where we live.

I had a mk7 Gti and loved it but with a young child in the house or car, sadly the risk is enough to put me off having another at present.

ghost83

3,380 posts

139 months

Saturday 5th October 2019
quotequote all
J.R.B. said:
I would have one of these in a flash if it wasn’t for the fact that I would be nervous about the theft/car jacking risk which is still rife around where we live.

I had a mk7 Gti and loved it but with a young child in the house or car, sadly the risk is enough to put me off having another at present.
I have 2 kids and in West Yorkshire I don’t even bat an eye tbh! They’re keyless if they want it they won’t come in the house for it they will just use their key thingys and take it! It’s insured! I honestly wouldn’t worry just enjoy it

ZX10R NIN

16,190 posts

74 months

Saturday 5th October 2019
quotequote all
I'd buy a Focus/i30N over a Golf if it's just about daily duties & if I wanted a fore focused steer then the Megane would be where my money would be spent, but I also agree it's nice to have the choice.

nickfrog

10,861 posts

166 months

Saturday 5th October 2019
quotequote all
Baldchap said:
And you buy none of the cars mentioned.

It's catch 22. A hot hatch, even a brilliant one, will never be 25% the drivers' car a proper sports car is, so let's make them good daily drivers.
I disagree. The Megane Cup S was probably as good a drivers car as say, my 987. In a different way, but as good and certainly more neutral and more track firendly/capable.

anonymous-user

3 months

Saturday 5th October 2019
quotequote all
I’ve read and re-read the options list, and cannot find a single one that would be worth having. Semi-slick tyres? Panoramic roof? Stickers? Ridiculous.

breadvan

1,496 posts

117 months

Saturday 5th October 2019
quotequote all
I hear you, but what’s your experience of Cup 2 tyres? Personally, I think they are excellent and can significantly improve the experience of a hot hatch, especially in the dry.....

ghost83

3,380 posts

139 months

Sunday 6th October 2019
quotequote all
The chassis on the gti is sublime tbh mine is totally different with the michelin PS4 tyres. The cup tyres must be even better,
Will be sad to see mine go